A farmstay holiday in Iceland is an ultimate getting away from it all type experience, though the farmstay or agritourism industry in here is still perhaps in its early stages. For years the country was off the radar for tourism generally, but these days it is experiencing a huge upsurge and, as it is very much a rural country, for those staying longer than a few days, an Icelandic farmhouse stay has become almost an integral part of the Iceland travel experience.
The country certainly holds a rare fascination for many people. Its sparse population; not much over three hundred thousand, its beautifully rugged, inhospitable landscapes, its tough climate and its splendid isolation from the rest of Europe leave many wondering how it survives at all, but survive it does, very well.
Having suffered badly during the economic crisis of 2008, its traditionally self reliant people seem to have shaken off the after effects with true resilience. One obvious benefit of which, for foreigners, is that their post devaluation currency now makes it much cheaper to visit.
So, as mentioned before, it has been experiencing a tourism boom lately, and while most visitors do indeed come to see their quirky little capital Reykjavík those that explore its isolated rural areas are richly rewarded. To hike around volcanoes, hot springs, fjords and glaciers beneath its summer midnight sun is something uniquely magical, and in winter there is the enchanting spectacle of the northern lights.
Farmstays are popular here. There are many tiny farm communities and isolated farmhouses where you’ll find the people friendly and hospitable towards the growing numbers of outsiders who come their way. Even quite near Reykjavík you can find yourself in some splendidly isolated settings, with lava fields and some spectacular waterfalls around the ice caps of the still active volcanoes of Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull to the south of the capital. The hot springs of Landmannalaugar are a popular diversion from the capital too, as is the captivating Blue Lagoon and the Westmann islands whose rough, rocky coastline is filled with North Atlantic birdlife.
Much of the north west of the country is made up of surprisingly flat, rolling farm land that seems quite distinct but always with a backdrop of spectacular mountains in the near distance. Moving towards the northeast you’ll eventually come to Eyjafjörður, Iceland’s longest fjord and the town of Akureyri, with a population of around 15,000, the country’s second biggest.
East from there takes you over towards the East Fjords another magnificent sight, and between there and Akureyri you have detours around the Reykjadalur Valley and the lava-covered Ódáðahraun plains which are full of glaciers, rivers and underground springs. Mývatn lake about an hour from Akureyri, and its nearby geothermal springs, are also popular destinations with tourists, both local and foreign.